Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to critically explore the historical background and current approach of the most common statutory instrument to maintain green landscapes in private residential gardens in cities and townships in suburban New South Wales (NSW), Australia.
Design/methodology/approach – The narrative presents a transdisciplinary study. While its emphasis is on law and town planning, it also encompasses local government and legal history while touching upon environmental management and ecological science. This panoply of areas reflects the sheer complexity of the topic. While the presentation is initially descriptive, it moves on to a critique of the NSW Government’s recent statutory approach.
Findings – The paper demands that further attention must be paid to improving the design and architecture of statutory plans and underlying policies to not only improve urban biodiversity but also retain, as far as practicable, the visual beauty of the suburban landscape. This means reliance on local government to devise their own acceptable approaches. Flexibility rather than rigidity is warranted.
Originality/value – The amount of scholarly material on this topic is relatively rare. The majority of information relies on excellent on-ground research and experience on the part of local experts, namely council employees and consultants. Academic and practical material must be drawn together to improve biodiversity conservation at both the local and regional spheres.